Rise of the Machine
One of the most genuinely interesting and thought-provoking mountain bikes we’ve seen in recent years. Does the Pole Machine signify the rise of the (CNC) machine?
Pole’s radical Machine bike is made from a new space age material, promising great strength and light weight. It’s not made from carbon fibre though, the Finnish brand scrapped that idea in 2017 because it caused too much environmental damage, they said. It’s not made from titanium either. Nor steel. And it’s not bamboo, you’ll be pleased to hear, like Calfee Design used.
Instead Pole will machine the bike from solid billets of aircraft-grade aluminium called 7075 T6 alloy, before being bonded together. It’s never been tried on a bike before, and while Pole says they know it’s 1.7 times stronger than T6, they don’t yet know just how light they can get the Machine.
The Pole Machine
Before we get into the details though, just what is the Machine? A 160mm travel 29er enduro bike, built to take a 180mm fork and featuring the same advaced geometry Pole has become famous for — this bike comes with a 63.9° head angle and 78° seat angle. There are two models to choose from, based around the same robotically CNC’d frame: the Machine EN for €6,950 built for racing, and the Machine TR with coil shock that’s designed for messing about on, and costs €5,500. The Frameset alone without shock is €3,450.
It’s made from this T6 alloy because Pole says it’s a “faster, cleaner and more humane way of making bikes,” than either carbon or regular T5 aluminium. They say the stronger material means the bike can be lighter than the competition with each part accurately machined for thickness rather than guesstimated with standard hydroforming.
How light are we talking then? “My goal is under 3kg, but it’s hard to say because we are the first in the world to produce a bike on 7075 T6 aluminium, where wall thicknesses can be adjusted within hundredths of millimetres,” says Leo Kokkonen from Pole.
Just how do you machine an entire bike then? First up, it’s not made from one single billet of aluminium, but several. The front triangle is made from three parts, a left sided piece, a right and a seat tube, which are all bonded together. At the back, the rear triangle is made from seven parts on the prototype, although Leo says this will be reduced on the production bike. The chainstays and seatstays are made from two separate halves and then bonded together to make them hollow.
The Machine isn’t the only new bike in the Pole line-up either, and although we don’t really have details on them yet there’s a 200mm travel DH bike coming that will be raced at World Cup level, and a light trail bike with 140mm travel that we’re really looking forward to. Oh, and an “electrically assisted superbike” is promised to. As for the Machine, you’ll have to wait until March to get your hands on one.
This prototype uses a RockShox Super Deluxe, with the seat tube curving around the line of the shock. Pole says there’s a tune coming for a Fox shock too, while the TR version comes with a Super Deluxe coil
The Pole is big: they should have called it Totem, if only RockShox hadn’t nabbed the name. In size XL the Machine has a 535mm reach and an insane 1360mm wheelbase, that’s 45mm longer than the huge Whyte S-150.
The Machine is unpainted, features external cable routing — although Stealth dropper posts can still be used through an internally routed seat tube section. There are also three bottle mounts, two inside the font triangle and one underneath.
Pole Machine need to know
- CNC machined mountain bike
- 7075 T6 aluminium
- 180mm fork, 160mm rear travel
- 100% made in Finland
- 29in wheel only – up to 29″ x 3.0″ clearance
- 63.9° head angle
- 78° (actual) seat angle
- 490mm reach on Medium+ size
- €3,450 frame only (limited special offer)
Pole’s head of design, Leo Kokkonen is responsible for the engineering and design. The Machine has been the dream of Leo, he has designed a cutting edge bike imagined and inspired by nature, his surroundings and fundamentally his goal to create the fastest, most striking bike ever.
The front and the rear triangles are made of three parts that are bonded together with glue. 7075 T6 aluminium is 1,7 times stronger than conventional bike alloy 6061 T6. This makes it possible to manufacture the frame to be lighter than normal aluminium bikes.
The machined frame is left as it is to reveal the exclusive process. The best feature of this is that the frame is not prone to scratches and wear. The 7075 surface is hard and the machined surface camouflages the possibility scratches and wear. The oxidation process of the frame over time will produce a classy patina.
Asymmetric shock. The Machine features an asymmetric shock to create more seat tube insert length, as the dropper posts are getting longer.
External cable routing. The frame has only external cable routing. You can still use Stealth dropper posts which will feed through a port on the seat tube.
Three bottle mounts. Two inside and one the outside of the front triangle. It’s possible to store more stuff on the bike rather than using a backpack.
Low standover. Pole have rotated the shock 90 degrees and have created even more standover space than on the EVOLINK.
Other new bikes in the Pole pipeline
200mm travel DH bike that will be raced at the UCI DH World Cups, a light trail bike with 140mm travel and an electrically assisted superbike.